If you were unsure about whether you ought to let yourself have that third, fourth or fifth cup of coffee every day, you may now have total justification. As new research shows, each additional cup of coffee per day might reduce your risk of prostate cancer by 1 percent.
But does that mean people with prostates ought to be chugging coffee nonstop?
Well, maybe. Urologists from the Shengjing Hospital of China Medical University conducted a systematic review of data from various studies to analyze an association between coffee consumption and prostate cancer and published their findings in BMJ Open this week. Using 16 studies from the U.S., Europe and Japan, the researchers compared data from over 1 million adult men, 57,732 of whom developed prostate cancer over the course of their respective studies. When they looked at the coffee consumption of these men, they found that those who reported the highest levels of coffee consumption — up to 10 cups per day — were correlated with a nine percent lower risk of prostate cancer compared to those who reported consuming none.
Breaking that data down further, they also found that the biggest coffee drinkers were at a 12 to 16 percent lower risk for advanced and fatal prostate cancer, as well. The correlation remained for more moderate coffee drinkers, too, with the data showing a 1 percent reduction in prostate cancer risk with each additional cup.
Buuuuuuuuuut, this data doesn’t definitely mean that coffee itself reduces prostate cancer risk. Instead, it only points to a correlation. Maybe those who drink tons of coffee also eat really well, avoid other carcinogens and get plenty of exercise. The researchers do state in their study, though, that it is indeed biologically plausible that coffee could be the cause. “Coffee improves glucose metabolism, decreases concentrations of plasma insulin and insulin-like growth factor-1, has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects and affects sex hormone levels, all of which may play roles in the initiation, development and progression of prostate cancer,” the article states.
Regardless, drinking moderate amounts of coffee is generally considered safe. Most of the potential risks of coffee consumption, such as anxiety, high blood pressure and insomnia, are generally caused by drinking more coffee than one is accustomed to. So if you do want to start drinking more coffee, it’s best to ease into it over time.
Again, we don’t know for sure that coffee will indeed help prevent you from getting prostate cancer, so there’s not much urgency to change your habits just yet. Nevertheless, it’s potentially a big development in helping lower rates of the second most common cancer, and the sixth leading cause of cancer death in men.